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US Military Control of Tokyo’s Airspace

SNA (Tokyo) — Due to agreements made between Japan and the United States at the end of the Pacific War, the US military controls the majority of the airspace over Tokyo. The airspace controlled by the United States also extends into several surrounding regions.

This is known as the “Yokota Rapcon Airspace,” the name coming from the name of the air base which controls it, located in Fussa, Tokyo. US military control of this airspace significantly restricts the ability of commercial flights to take off and land at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport. Flights must change route and typically spend a significant amount of extra time in the air to navigate around the Yokota airspace and land at Haneda.

For several years, the Japanese government has been urging the United States to return part of this airspace or at least lessen restrictions. Particularly, the Japanese government wants to increase the number of annual flights to and from Haneda by 39,000 in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In early November, it was announced that the government and the US military were in negotiations to return partial control of the Yokota airspace. It seems that they have reached an agreement by which Japan will regain control of several flight routes over the central Tokyo area, which will allow a significant increase in the number of flights and a reduction of flight times to Haneda.

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